Scoring Online Deals: A Guide to 6 Top Sites

LivingSocial is latest deal site to grab headlines with Amazon coupon offer.

ByKi Mae Heussner
January 20, 2011, 11:05 AM

Jan. 20, 2011 — -- So you want to score a deal on that designer dress you've been eyeing but can't tell your deal-making websites from your discount-promising duds?

You're not the only one.

There's no shortage of websites looking to hand you tempting deals on local businesses, top restaurants, designer threads.

Daily discount site Groupon may be the current darling of the online deal space, and the Internet was abuzz this week with news of LivingSocial's deal offering customers a $20 Amazon gift card for $10. The half-off deal attracted more than 1 million customers across the country, making it the company's most successful deal so far.

Problem is, with more and more of these offers seeming to pop up daily, it can be difficult to keep them all straight.

If you're looking for some help navigating the growing world of Internet deals, take a look below.

The Amazon deal was offered to shoppers across the country, but LivingSocial mostly focuses on sending subscribers daily deals promising deep discounts (up 90 percent) to local businesses. Each day, the site publicizes a deal to stores, restaurants, spas, theaters and other services in more than 120 markets.

Consumers buy vouchers online and then have the option to redeem them at the business anytime within a given time window. Shoppers are given the option to share the deal through a unique link, and if three people buy the deal with their link, they get the deal for free.

Based in Chicago, Groupon offers its daily deals to millions of members in more than 300 markets in 35 countries.

Each day, subscribers can log on to the site (or receive e-mails) to see the deals the company offers in their area that day. Discounts usually fall within the 50 to 90 percent range for services like dining, fitness, entertainment, clothing and more.

When enough Groupon members commit to that day's deal, Groupon lets them know that the "deal is on." If not enough people commit to the deal, Groupon cancels the deal and doesn't charge anyone.

If a Groupon member refers a friend who subscribes to the site within 72 hours, the member receives a $10 credit when the friend makes her first purchase.

Gilt/Gilt City

For those with a penchant for premium products, offers short-term sales on luxury goods like high-end merchandise, clothing and accessories for women, men and children.

Most sales start at noon ET and last for 36 hours, offering products up to 70 percent off. The site is invitation-only (interested shoppers need to register with an e-mail address and wait for the invite to arrive), but if you download the Gilt iPhone application, you're automatically led through the virtual velvet rope.

Gilt Group also offers Gilt City, a similar site (and iPhone application) for travel packages and experiences. The site only offers deals for a handful of cities (like New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco) but gives members discounted access to high-end spas, restaurants, hotels and events.

Rue La La also draws discerning shoppers with its invitation-only website. The site offers name-brand goods across a range of categories including apparel, accessories, travel, wine and gourmet dining.

As with Gilt, wannabe-members need to provide an e-mail address to be added to the waiting list, but downloading the iPhone application provides instant access.

Members can invite friends and receive a $10 credit when new friends place their first order.

Yet another site for designer-oriented digital shoppers, Haute Look offers subscribers 50 to 75 percent off discounts on apparel, accessories, beauty products and home goods through its 48-hour sales.

Haute Look is free to join (no invitation necessary) and offers goods for adults and kids. While it also features high-profile brands, its prices are typically lower than those on

If you're looking to save on your next visit to the salon, Lifebooker is the site for you.

Exclusively focused on beauty and health deals, the site lets users search for and book appointments with businesses in New York and Los Angeles.

The site caters to men and women and lists deep discounts on services for hair, body, nails, fitness, massage, nutrition and more.

Each time you honor an appointment booked on the site you receive a "Reward Dollar" that can be redeemed for a future service. Users can also receive rewards for inviting friends to the site.

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